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Relaxation and mental health

2-minute read

Relaxation is a state where you feel calm and able to manage day-to-day life. If you have a busy life, this can be difficult. Relaxation has many mental and physical health benefits, and the techniques can be practised almost anywhere.

What is relaxation?

Relaxation is a state where you feel calm and can manage your stress or anxiety.

How can relaxation improve your mental health?

Relaxation reduces stress and the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression,anxiety and schizophrenia. Relaxation also has other related health benefits, including:

What are some relaxation techniques?

Relaxation techniques focus on muscle relaxation or breathing. An example is progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense then relax different muscle groups.

Other techniques include:

  • visualisation, where you create a mental image of a calming place for you
  • deep breathing, where you refocus your attention on your breathing
  • hypnosis
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • exercise.

Ways to include relaxation in your life

Find a relaxation technique that works for you and make it part of your daily routine, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes a day.

If you’re interested in mindfulness, you may want to use mindfulness colouring books to help you focus on the present moment and take your mind off other things. This includes an aspect of art therapy, another relaxation technique.

Keeping a healthy work life balance helps with relaxation and managing stress.

Where to get help if relaxation is not helping

If you’re finding it difficult to relax, talk to your doctor about a referral to a mental health professional who can help you develop techniques for relaxation. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan. Visit beyondblue and for information on other relaxation techniques.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).


Psychiatria Danubina (Acute effects of progressive muscle relaxation on state anxiety and subjective well-being in chronic Bulgarian patients with schizophrenia), Mayo Clinic (Relaxation techniques - Try these steps to reduce stress), Cochrane Library (Meditation therapy for anxiety disorders), Mayo Clinic (Stress management - relaxation techniques), Cochrane Library (Relaxation for perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms), Mayo Clinic (Exercise and stress - Get moving to manage stress)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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